Fast Eddie Still Clipping

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One of the newest customers gets a trim at Fast Eddie’s Coast Barber Shop but doesn’t seem happy about it. Others have been coming for more than four decades and love Eddie’s work.

On July 5, 1967, Corona del Mar was the scene of the grand opening of the Coast Barber Shop.

It wasn’t a big affair. Actually it wasn’t much of an affair at all, according to owner Edward “Fast Eddie” Banelos. But it was the start of a long love affair with a city and it’s people that has endured now for more than four decades.

Edward Banelos in his new barber shop, circa 1967.

Although Eddie still doesn’t live in Newport – he hails from Garden Grove – he knows the city and its residents better than most.

For a time in his early years he even ran a small real estate office down PCH in CdM until he turned to haircutting and barbering fulltime.

Eddie’s other passion, music also has a distinct Newport flavor and history that continues even to this day. You see, Eddie not only has been giving hair cuts hair and straight edge shaves for decades now, he also plays a few instruments and directs his own big-band orchestra. He’s be doing that for decades as well.

His musical talent led him to the Balboa Pavilion in 1957 where he met his future wife Ophelia. Eddie and Ophelia were married in 1958 and are still married today – 53 years and counting.

Eddie is what most anybody would call a local institution. As Eddie tells the story, he got his nickname way back when the coach of Corona del Mar high school’s football team at the time sent his kids to Eddie’s barber shop. As Eddie tells the story, the father/coach told Eddie to get the kids “in and out” as fast as he could. Eddie did, and earned a nickname that has stuck ever since.

Eddie at work on a recent Thursday.

Eddie has cut the hair of everybody from local kids to former SEC Chairman Chris Cox, actor Buddy Ebsen and former Angel John Lackey. But what makes Eddie so special is he treats every customer and head of hair like it was his first.

Stopping by to get your hair cut with Eddie is like taking a trip back into the history of the city, with an updated twist. If you need to know something Newport or Orange County related, Eddie probably will be able to tell you.

Eddie and his hair cutting skills were not new to Newport Beach back in 1967, because Eddie had worked at the Ford Aeronutronic facility that then occupied the entire top of the hill between Jamboree and Macarthur Road It is now but a distant memory, torn down and replaced in by million-dollar homes with views of Newport Harbor and the Pacific Ocean.

When Eddie opened his new barber shop back then, his customers from his former job cutting hair followed him. “A few of them even showed up the first day” Eddie says, and are still visiting his barber shop even today.

Recently I paid Eddie and his hair cutting co-horts Angel and Jaime (aka ‘Heimer’) a visit to talk. Angel, the son of Eddie’s best friend growing up, has known Eddie since he was a small kid. Eddie is like his second father.

The small but classic barber shop has changed little over the years, It is usually full of people, from young to old. Finding one of the half-a-dozen well worn seats to wait your turn is always a challenge. From the old magazines in the well-worn rack, to the jokes and banter of Eddie and his crew, the shop has the makings of your favorite never-ending TV sitcom.

As Eddie, Angel and Jaime answered my dumb reporter questions about his life, his business and his place in Newport Beach history along with everything else under the sun, an Asian man with classes walked in alone and sat down ready for his haircut. He eagerly offered up that Eddie had been cutting his hair since 1964, starting back when he was working as an engineer at the Ford plant.

When I got around to asking Eddie’s about his band, Angel jokingly began gesturing towards me trying to make me stop. Angel later told me that he and Heimer had seen the video of Eddie’s band so many time they probably had the entire tape memorized.

Eddie said he and his band are still quite active and had a private party gig booked in Corona del Mar in about a week or so. “Eddie and his Allstars,” as they are known, were going to lay down some grooves at a Cuban/Havana Nights themed party a friend was throwing for his girlfriend. They also had played at his wedding in Santa Barbara years ago.

Eddie told me later his band played the night for the assembled guests and it was a blast.

Fast Eddie’s Coast Barber Shop is at 333 Marigold, just off Coast Highway, in Corona del Mar. Open Tuesday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays 7:30 a.m.-noon. Fast Eddie cuts hair Thursdays by appointment only. 949-675-7033.

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